Bug dioramas at the Morbid Anatomy Library

Bugging out: Brooklyn insect expert makes dollhouses for bugs

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

As an entomologist and a Brooklyn resident, Daisy Tainton knows a thing or two about bugs.

And she will be sharing some of that knowledge in a workshop at the Morbid Anatomy Library on Feb. 1. She will not, however, be teaching the bizarre life-cycles, or the peculiar habits of Earth’s six-legged denizens — the lesson is far stranger than that.

“You’ll get to learn how to prepare your own insect and, by the end of it, you should have a finished diorama,” said Tainton, who spent sevens years at the American Museum of Natural History as their senior insect preparator.

That’s right, Tainton’s Morbid workshop is about making dioramas — with bugs!

Tainton will provide each of her diorama hobbyists with a farm-bred beetle, a box, and lots of little doll-house props to create a still-life scene featuring a moment in an anthropomorphized bug’s life.

Furthermore, she will instruct her students in the small-scale taxidermy skills required to get the bugs in the proper position, and to keep them stuck that way.

“We walk people through steaming, softening, and repositioning them, and then you have to create an armature to pin them and dry them in the position you want,” she explained.

Tainton’s own dioramas, of which she has made dozens, feature beetles and other bugs in all sorts of domestic scenes — such as knitting, making love, or reading the paper on the loo.

She said the whole concept came from her love of dollhouse props, and also her disdain for the dolls they are made to complement. Basically, she would rather have a preying mantis sipping out of her tiny tea cups than a plastic girl.

“I don’t really like human dolls, never did,” said Tainton. “But I like dollhouse items, and I handle a lot of different types of insects, and I realized they would fit.”

Humans have a long history of anthropomorphizing animals, said Tainton, and she considers her work with bugs to be in the same tradition.

“Little anthropomorphic displays are something that’s pretty common especially in children’s books and things like that,” she said. “Kids love them too.”

Learn to make bug dioramas at the Morbid Anatomy Library [543 Union St. between Bond and Nevins streets in Gowanus, (718) 243–1572,] Feb. 1 at 1 pm. $75.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
Let me guess. Daisy is from Minnesota and sells her zany & quirky wares on Etsy?
Jan. 29, 2014, 4:46 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!